HT Schuyler: Warm Bodies Review

Posted: February 21, 2013 by htschuyler in HT Schuyler's Movie Reviews


Rated PG for language and violence.

Directed by: Jonathan Levine.

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Analeigh Tipton, Dave Franco and John Malkovich.

Like most horror fans, I love zombies. So, naturally, like most horror fans, when I first hear about this movie my initial reaction was: “What the hell is this shit? A zombie love story? Are you kidding me Hollywood?” But then I started looking into it. Jonathan Levine, director of 2011’s 50/50, a film I thoroughly enjoyed, was directing, and the trailer looked surprisingly good. It was going for a much more comedic approach and it seemed like it wasn’t taking itself too seriously. Then reviews started praising and defending it, so I thought screw it, may as well check it out. So does Warm Bodies breath new life into a tired genre or does it deserve a bullet straight to the head?

After some sort of catastrophic event that has left most of the world as mindless living corpses, a young zombie who can only remember his name beginning with the letter “R” (Nicholas Hoult) roams around an empty airport contemplating his existence. After a feast on a few young survivors, R finds himself falling in love with one of them, a girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer). He takes her back to his zombie lair and there they start to bond, become friends and ultimately fall in love. The more love R feels for Julie the more his heart starts to recover and the “warmer” his body gets, slowly making him human. As he starts to become more human so do the other zombies, which upsets a group of EXTREME zombies known as “Bonies”, who eat anything with a heartbeat, which R and his friends are slowly getting. So yeah, the plot is pretty damn absurd, but somehow it works, excelling on its simplicity. This isn’t a deep drama, it’s a simple zombie love story.

Nicholas Hoult carries the film, and does a really great job at it. His movements and actions as a zombie remain consistent and his transformation is done subtly yet effectively. His narration provides some comedic moments and helps explain the plot without becoming forced or annoying, and his character genuinely does go through an arc that makes sense. Teresa Palmer is also very good, playing the free spirited, wants-to-break-free-from-the-norm girl who is sympathetic and likable. Rob Corddry plays R’s friend M, who brings a surprisingly high amount of emotion to an undead character, and of all the transformations his feels the most genuine and heart-felt. Analeigh Tipton plays Julie’s friend Nora, who is basically just there for comic relief. She can be annoying at times but does her job and has some funny moments. Dave Franco plays his signature douche bag role, but is surprisingly good at showing emotion when the scene demands it. Last but not least is John Malkovich as Julie’s father, who is basically the leader of the resistance against zombies. Though for the majority of the movie he just plays the hard-ass dad, his scenes with Julie do become somewhat touching towards the end and their relationship seems to go through a subtle arc.

The Good:

Despite the films initial appearance as a sappy love story, the movie was surprisingly heavy in an aspect that I thought would be ignored, and that is the horror elements. The art design looks great and there are some genuinely chilling scenes. The zombies themselves don’t look all that scary but the “Bonies” are very creepy and there are some really great scenes with them. Even with some of the darker scenes, the movie also has a fair amount of fun in it, and does so effectively without becoming goofy or distracting. R and Julie’s relationship develops well and seems authentic by the time it has come full circle. The direction is excellent, and the film boasts some pretty good action scenes, as well as some good chase set pieces. The ruined and burnt world looks very nice, and is sometimes just downright gritty and harsh. The design of the world is as dark as you’d expect to see in a horror film, even more effective than some of the other zombie movies that have come out recently. The dark imagery reminds the audience that this is a lighter story taking place in a much darker world, and I found this played into the film perfectly. Though not as apparent as something like Dawn of the Dead, the film contains some pretty clever social satire towards the beginning, and while it doesn’t play a large part in the film it was still a nice touch.

The Bad:

The film is marketed not as a romance or even a horror movie, but instead as a comedy, and for what it’s worth I didn’t find the film that funny. There are a few good lines here and there, but nothing that really made it a comedy, which is fine, as I was enjoying the dramatic aspects of the film, it just could have done without the comedic tone and just stuck with the drama/horror aspects with a few moments of comic relief. The film takes awhile before the main plot even comes into play, and spends most of its time with just scenes of R and Julie bonding, so when the actual story does kick in, it feels a little underdeveloped. There are some moments throughout that seem really absurd and don’t really make sense within the context of the film, and some character motivations and actions towards the end that are very questionable and bizarre. The film can feel very slow at times because you are waiting for the real plot to kick in, but once it does and things start coming along it does flow a lot better. The film can be dull at times, annoying character actions and some bizarre twists along the way, but it never really took me out of the film or angered me.

In Conclusion:

While it never does fully go the extra mile, as it stands it is still a very fun, charming and I would even go as far as to say cute love story with great direction and some chilling and scary scenes. It is definitely one of the better supernatural love stories to come out in the past years, and as it stands now it’s the best zombie movie of the year. It has a little something for everyone, and while it isn’t high art or anything, it is still a very good little film that actually does something new with the genre, which alone is impressive. If you enter this film looking for some deep artist merit, you might be disappointed, but if you enter with an open mind and are prepared to embrace it’s bizarreness, then you’ll have a great time. Recommended.


  1. Chris says:

    Is this a remake of the Ginger Lynn classic “Warm Bodies”?

  2. barronlouise says:

    Great review, liked this movie slightly, and im liking nicholas hoult well let’ s see in jack the giant slayer

  3. CMrok93 says:

    Just around the same rating I gave this as well. It’s an okay flick that prospers in paying attention to it’s characters and actually having us give a crap about them. Even the zombies. Good review HT.

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